Ireland has proudly announced that it is the first country to entirely – no, totally – divest from fossil fuels. This means rather less than nothing, as it doesn’t actually mean that Ireland won’t be using any fossil fuels. It just means that the State itself, the funds it controls, won’t be buying shares in fossil fuel companies. Not buying Shell or BP stock is not a great blow against climate change:
Ireland is set to become the first country to stop public investments in fossil fuels.
The Fossil Fuel Divestment bill was passed by the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, on Thursday.
The bill is expected to pass relatively quickly through the Seanad (senate), and will force the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to end any investments in non-renewable energy in five years.
Environment activists have welcomed the news.
It’s feel good trivia rather than anything important.
The text of the bill calls for the complete divestment of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of fossil fuel companies within five years from the commencement of the bill’s approval. The aim, as expressed in the bill, is “to precipitate a timely decarbonisation process in line with Ireland’s climate change commitments under Article 2 of the Paris Agreement.”
Not buying shares and not using fossil fuels are two rather different things. Owning or not owning Exxon stock makes no difference whatsoever to which fuel people top up with at the petrol station now, does it?
Ireland has lagged behind other European countries in cutting emissions and Irish households emit 60 per cent more carbon than the average EU home, in part because of the use of peat and coal for heating, according to a government study.
“We have had a very carbon-based economy and society for a number of years, so this is a huge change for us, but it has to happen,” said Thomas Pringle, the independent parliamentarian who sponsored the legislation.
“The bill sends a very clear message . . . that the Irish government sees the transition away from fossil fuels as very important,” he added.
The difference this will make to the use of peat and coal is precisely nothing, isn’t it? Unlike, say, that digging up of County Down* going on to put natural gas pipelines in. You know, investing in fossil fuels so as to reduce carbon emissions?
The full bill is here. Signifies nothing, just wind.
*Yes, I know, different country.